Book Review: November 9 by Colleen Hoover

I have to thank the book blogging community for putting this book on my radar. I read numerous reviews and mentions and got curious enough to buy the book. I am definitely glad that I did.

Review, shall we?

November 9 by Colleen Hoover is about Fallon, a former actress currently living in the aftermath of tragedy and Ben, an inspiring writer. The two characters meet on November 9. This date becomes an important date in the book since everything revolves around it This is also the one day that Fallon and Ben agree to meet each year over a period of five years. They also agreed not to communicate or contact each other at all apart from on that date.ROMANTIC


I really enjoyed reading November 9. Fallon and Ben were likeable characters. They both had their own struggles but it was great seeing how the relationship impacted on them. I think the author did a great job in developing the story especially given the premise of the relationship whereby the main characters only met once a year.Despite being unusual,it  still seemed believable and kinda romantic.


There are sections of the book that seemed a bit clichéd, too mushy and corny but still this didn’t take away the fact that the story was beautiful. The romance was undeniable.

I also thought it was quite a page turner. It was so fast paced and so I found myself looking forward to the next November 9. The twists were  good. For instance; one of the major twists was finding out how the two characters were actually connected through their pasts.

I never used to be a fan of YA and especially romantic themes but this year has been full of surprises. I really enjoyed reading this book. I can picture it as a movie/film and I hope it will be adapted into one.







Book Review: Beloved by Toni Morrison


Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby.

Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.


Romans 9:25: ”I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.”

Beloved by Toni Morrison is what my book club picked for this month. The review meeting is actually being held today. Since joining the book club, I have only bailed out on reading one book, Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. I knew it was a difficult book so I didn’t even try. However, despite being told about Beloved being another difficult book, I decided to challenge myself and read it.

Beloved in set in 1870’s after the abolition of slavery. The protagonist, Sethe lives in a big house at 124 Bluestone with her daughter Denver. However, it soon becomes clear that they are not the only occupants of 124. In the same house lives Beloved, the ghost another one of Sethe’s daughter.

SCARED BELOVEDLet me digress a little bit, I did not expect to find a ghost or any supernatural aspects in Beloved. I never saw it coming and the first chapters of the books terrified me. You can read about my nightmares on this post I did for WWW Wednesday this week.

However, moving forward, I soon realized that this was not a horror story.

Paul D moved in with Sethe and Denver and managed to chase out the ghost of the baby. Nevertheless, a woman shows up at the house and yeah, her name is Beloved. I will not divulge more details on the plot-line so as not to spoil the book for those who have not yet read it.

“There is a loneliness that can be rocked. Arms crossed, knees drawn up, holding, holding on, this motion, unlike a ship’s, smooths and contains the rocker. It’s an inside kind–wrapped tight like skin. Then there is the loneliness that roams. No rocking can hold it down. It is alive. On its own. A dry and spreading thing that makes the sound of one’s own feet going seem to come from a far-off place.”
Toni Morrison, Beloved

Beloved was a difficult book to read. At first I really struggled to get the flow of the book. The story is told in a stream of consciousness that I had a hard time keeping up with. Nonetheless, as I kept reading; I soon found out that the first chapters become clearer as you progress into the story. The story is also told from different perspective by different narrators hence helping in the flow of events.

resisting_slaveryThere were parts of the book that were hard to read, not because of the style of writing but the harrowing tales of slavery. For instance; Sethe kept talking about being treated as a cow and having her milk stolen. Paul D also narrates scary stories of being forced to sleep in a hold in the ground. The ugliness of slavery is exposed in a shocking way that will make readers sympathize with the former slaves.


Beloved by Toni Morrison is definitely thought provoking. It made me question Sethe’s act of killing her baby and the justification behind it. She explained that she killed her baby to save her from the slave masters. Why does it feel like that something similar to that still happens today? How many times to we destroy each other while using the ‘slave master’ as an excuse. There are different forms of slave masters everywhere. In addition, Toni Morrison shows that it is not just the slave masters who exert the mistreatment. For instance; in the book, the black people in Sethe’s neighborhood were not particularly kind to her. She was ostracized by them because of the choices that she had made. Toni showed that not all white people were bad and not all the black people were good or victims. Beloved also made me think about how sometimes the past refuses to be left behind. I guess that’s what Toni was trying to explain using the ghosts.

“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”
Toni Morrison, Beloved

It is  a literary masterpiece and I understand why it won the Pulitzer price and why Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize. However, before you read Beloved, you need to be prepared for the journey ahead. There are heavy themes and difficult topics which are all entwined. There are mentions of bestiality, sexual assault, racism, slavery, human torture and infanticide. It is not an easy book to read but  it is definitely worth it.

Note: Beloved was inspired by the story of an African-American slave, Margaret Garner who killed her daughter to keep her from being returned to slavery


Book Review: Partners: A Rogue Lawyer Short Story By John Grisham

Short Review

This is the second short story that I have read by John Grisham. The first one was The Tumor which was  non-fiction. However; Partners: A Rogue Lawyer Short Story is a legal thriller only that it is very short with only 50 pages. This is a prequel to Grisham’s book, Rogue Lawyer which I reviewed sometime back at the beginning of this year. You can read my review here.


Partners is a story about Sebastian Rudd, the lawyer and Tee Ray, his partner, bodyguard and law clerk and how the two met. Tee Ray was involved in a police shooting and the whole police department was baying for his blood. However, Rudd was hired to take up the case and he decides to fight for Tee Ray even though he knows that the case will get him in the bad books of all law enforcement officers. This is a story of Rudd’s fight for Tee Ray’s freedom.



This short story is ideal for readers who have already read Rogue Lawyer or those who intend to do so.



imagesImage from the Rogue Lawyer

Book Review: The Color Purple by Alice Walker



The Color Purple is a beautiful story narrated in letters. Some of the letters are addressed to God. The rest are mainly letters between two sisters, Nettie and Celia. The protagonist is Celia. She is a black woman living in the South. Celia tells of her torment and abuse in the hands of different men starting with her father. The story is first narrated by Celia in her letters to God. The second set of letters is from Nettie to Celia. The two sisters were separated when Celia got married.


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The story is set from 1900 to 1940’s. It has some really good twists.

“Everything want to be loved. Us sing and dance and holler, just trying to be loved.”
Alice Walker, The Color Purple

The Color Purple has a powerful theme of feminism. As readers, we get to see Celia’s transformation through her letters. She transforms from a victim to an independent, confident woman.
purple 3.jpgI really enjoyed reading The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I used to look forward to getting home from work so that I could get lost in the pages of the story. I thought about Celia and could picture her through her journey to a strong woman. I had this image of Shug Avery too. She was strong, beautiful and confident. I could also picture Nettie and especially the Olinkas as their lives transformed with the colonialism. At the end of the book, there were a few pages about Alice Walker with photos of her family from back in the 1930’s. They are beautiful photos that also tell the story of the author. This was a beautiful book that I am sure will stay with me for a very long time.

About the Book
Title: The Color Purple
Author: Alice Walker
Pages: 142
Rating: 5 stars


“All my life I had to fight. I had to fight my daddy. I had to fight my brothers. I had to fight my cousins and my uncles. A girl child ain’t safe in a family of men. But I never thought I’d have to fight in my own house. She let out her breath. I loves Harpo, she say. God knows I do. But I’ll kill him dead before I let him beat me.”
Alice Walker, The Color Purple

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Book Review: Halos by Kristen Heitzmann



As I mentioned on this blog before, I decided to read a few novels under the Christian Fiction genre this month. After all, it’s the month of Easter and I recently found books by two Christian authors that came highly recommended. One of my senior colleagues at work gave me two copies of Francine Rivers books and our library just got two copies of Kristen Heitzmann Books.
Review, Shall we?
Halos by Kristen Heitzmann

I saw this book at the library and picked it because of the lovely cover. I was intrigued by the blurb and absolutely had to read the book. Halos is a story about Alessi Moore, a twenty one year old looking for a fresh start. Lessi is somewhat naive; she believes in the goodness of everyone and seems to trust that halos are an indication of good things.

She arrives at a beautiful small town called Charity and spots what looks like a halo hence believing that she had found a new place where she could have a fresh new start in life. However, minutes after arriving in Charity, her red mustang gets stolen leaving her with nothing but the clothes that she was wearing. Alessi ends up stranded, at the mercies of strangers who not all are friendly and a psychopath who is taunting her.


IMG_20160310_200103The book is full of suspense. I kept trying to guess the identity of Alessi’s stalker. Everyone looked like a suspect at some point. There was also the constant mention of a pact that the town had. The Sheriff had an attitude that I just couldn’t understand. He wasn’t even trying to find her car. This book was definitely intriguing. It was also well paced with a number of twists along the way.

The characters were so endearing that I wanted to move to Charity. Well apart from the fact that a psychopath was running loose, stealing cars and taunting lone women. I liked the kind-hearted men who took Lessi in and even Steve with his mistrust issues. Alessi was effortlessly likable, her innocence and strength despite the hardships that she had gone through in life were charming. Heitzmann  did a wonderful job with the overall character development in this book.

Halos by Kristen Heitzmann is a beautiful book about love, forgiveness and the power of prayer. It’s the kind of book that makes you think about your faith. I enjoyed this book and I definitely look forward to reading The Tender Vine by Christen Heitzmann which is now sitting on my bookshelf. Kristen Heitzmann is a skillful storyteller and I hope to read many more books from her.


I found Kristen’s Interview online. It is quite insightful.




Book Review: Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

Book Review
Title: Angela’s Ashes
Author: Frank McCourt
Genre: Memoir
Published: 1999
Pages: 362

Angela’s Ashes is a memoir by Frank McCourt about his childhood in Limerick, Ireland. Frank is  Angela and Malachy’s first born son and was born in America where the family lived briefly before relocating. The family later moved to Ireland after the death of their daughter, Margaret.

Angela’s Ashes Starring Robert Carlyle, Emily Watson, Joe Breen, Ciaran Owens and Michael Legge © Universal Pictures

This is a story about hardship, extreme poverty and perseverance. Angela’s family wallows in poverty in Ireland and struggle each day just to get something to eat. Most of the times, the family survives on slices of bread and tea. There are times when they have to sleep hungry. Malachy is an alcoholic unable to feed his family. He drinks away his wages and finally goes off to work in England and never comes back home or send any money like the other fathers do.

“The master says it’s a glorious thing to die for the Faith and Dad says it’s a glorious thing to die for Ireland and I wonder if there’s anyone in the world who would like us to live.”
Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes  

Angela has to do everything possible to provide for her family. Mostly, she is forced to beg for food. Frank on the other hand is desperate to become a man and start providing for his family which has now grown to include five brothers although two of them later die. It’s nice to see how much Frank valued the idea of manhood and seemed to try very hard not to end up like his father. For instance; when his mother fell ill and there was no food at home, Frank stole food from the streets to keep them going.
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt is one of the saddest stories that I have ever read. Children dying (three children die of infancy illnesses); others starving, while others struggling with afflictions of being poor. The family is so poor that they sleep on fleas infested beds. They can’t afford milk for the babies and at times, Angela gives them water with sugar. At some point, they are cold and can’t afford coal and so they use the timber of the walls of the house as firewood.

However, Frank McCourt tells his story in such a way that the characters are not pitiable. There are humorous moments despite the struggles. I especially liked the story of Frank’s journey to self-awareness. By 11 years old, he is working and providing for his family. At the age of fifteen, Frank loses his first love to Tuberculosis and at 19, he moves to America. Angela is also a woman to be admired for her strength and resilience.


“A mother’s love is a blessing
No matter where you roam.
Keep her while you have her,
You’ll miss her when she’s gone.”
Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes

I also loved the fact that the story was told from the perspective of the child narrator. It was interesting to have incidents described with the childlike innocence. Growing up in a religious society, Frank struggles with remaining righteous despite the many temptations that seem to come his way. He is always at confession sharing his ‘sins’ with the priests and seeking absolution. As a young boy, Frank does not understand about sex and even thinks that children are dropped home by angels. I admired the fact that at the age of 66, the author still managed to portray such a strong child’s voice.
I enjoyed this book and recommend it. I give it 5 stars. I look forward to reading the sequel, Tis and find out about Frank McCourt’s life in America.


Book Review: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

“When we stand before God on the last day, will he ask whether we went to university?” ― Lola Shoneyin, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

I came across this book at the beginning of 2016. Not sure why but it had so many good reviews and mentions in January.At some point, it seemed as if everyone in Kenya was reading and talking about The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. My Book Club also caught the fever and like everyone else, they too recommended the book. Naturally, curiosity got the better of me and I had to check it out. Last weekend, with six hours on the road, I finally got a chance to read The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin.

“A real woman must always do the things she wants to do, and in her own time too. You must never allow yourself to be rushed into doing things you’re not ready for.”
― Lola Shoneyin, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives


The story is about The Aloas, a polygamous family in Ibadan. Baba Segi, the head of the family, is rich but illiterate (and quite flatulent). Iya Segi, Iya Femi, Iya Tope and Bolanle are his four wives. The three wives have given Baba Segis seven children and to him, this is an accomplishment that he openly brags about. The ability to have many children is a validation of his manhood. His fourth wife, Bolanle is the only graduate in Baba Segi’s semi-illiterate family. She is also the only wife does not yet have a child, a fact that bothers Baba Segi. Bolanle is hated by the other wives due to the fact that she is different. They also detest the fact that Baba Segi is proud of his ‘graduate’ wife and treats her like a trophy. This odium leads them to take drastic measures to try and get her out of their home.


“Men are so simple. They will believe anything.”
― Lola Shoneyin, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin is full of humor. The language used is simple but quite raw (uncensored). Although, the story is told by multi-narrators, it is easy to follow the witty narration. The story has everything from jealously, lust, anger and love. Its characters are also quite memorable. All this make it a very fascinating read.

“The choices we have to make in this world are hard and bitter. Sometimes we have no choices at all.”
― Lola Shoneyin, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

The big twist in the story is revealed during the quest to solve the mystery behind Bolanle’s bareness. I must admit, the twist was really good. I never saw it coming. It’s the kind of twist that will make you pause to relish in just how good the story before you continue reading.

I recommend this book to every looking for a good, simple book with an easy flow. All fans of African Literature should also read The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin.

Book Review: The Return Journey by Maeve Binchy

These are star-crossed travelers who take each other’s bags by mistake, only to learn that when you unlock a stranger’s suitcase you enter a stranger’s life; the house-sitter who moves into her client’s life as well as her home; a holiday for four in Greece which has surprising consequences; and the chance encounter at an airport which unites an unlikely group of people. Full of love, loss, revelations and reconciliation, this enchanting collection shows Maeve Binchy at the height of her powers.

The Return Journey

I know a couple of fans of Maeve Binchy’s work and so when I came across one of her books, I had to read it and see what the fuss was all about. The Return Journey by Maeve Binchy is a collection of short stories on the theme of travel and vacation. When I picked the book, I didn’t know that it was a short stories collection. However, I still got lost in the pages, reading each story to the end.

There are different angles in each story. For instance, my favorite one was ‘ The Wrong Suitcase’ which is about two travelers who ended up swapping suitcases and so they had to open each other’s suitcase to find information on how to exchange the suitcases. It’s what they find in the suitcases that shapes their opinions about each other. There are a couple of other stories about people who find love and friendship during vacations. There are also stories of people who venture out of their normal routines to go on vacations.

All stories are heartwarming and I found myself smiling as I read them. Maeve Binchy does a great job of taking readers to each vacation and into the lives of the characters. The stories made me long for my own vacation. I wish I could  move to Italy and work in a restaurant like one of the characters.

If you are looking for a light, fun read, then you should definitely get The Return Journey by Maeve Binchy. This would also make a great read on vacation(Easter holiday is coming up). I don’t know whether all Maeve Binchy books are short stories collections but I do look forward to reading more from her and finding out. Do let me know if you have any recommendations on other Maeve Binchy books that I should check out.

Book Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
― Kathryn Stockett, The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is the kind of book that stays with you long after you turn the last page. It is one of the best books that I have ever read. This book reminded me of The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, another book that I enjoyed immensely.

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The setting of the book is Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s, an era that was marked with racial segregation. The story is told from the perspective of three women. Aibleen and Minny are colored house helps working for white families in the town. These women are as different as any two people can be. Aibleen has a gentle and regal personality, she is also proud of having raised seventeen white children. She is currently working for Miss Leefold and taking care of her daughter, Mae Mobley. However, something changed in Aibleen after her only son dies.

“That’s the way prayer do. It’s like electricity, it keeps things going.”
― Kathryn Stockett, The Help

Minny on the other hand is hotheaded and sassy hence can’t seem to keep any job. She is revered as being an excellent cook but her mouth always seems to get her into trouble. Minny struggles to find a job until Aibleen gets her job working as a maid for someone new in town, someone who doesn’t know her reputation.
Skeeter is a white woman who dreams of being a writer. She is the only one from her race who seems to sympathize with the plight of the colored helps in the town. Skeeter was raised by a black maid, Constantine, who mysteriously disappeared. All efforts to find out what happened to Constantine seem fruitless as nobody seems willing to talk to her about it. The three remarkable women embark on a dangerous clandestine project that could change things in Jackson. However, the project also puts them in grave danger in a town marred by racial tensions.

“Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, “Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?”
― Kathryn Stockett, The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stocket has an easy flow and the shift between the three perspectives is well paced hence not confusing. The dialect used the book is in line with the characters and the setting and it didn’t throw me off at all. Good Law, I be honest and just admit that Diana done downright loved it!


“Mississippi is like my mother. I am allowed to complain about her all I want, but God help the person who raises an ill word about her around me, unless she is their mother too.”
― Kathryn Stockett, The Help

This book has both sad and happy moments that make the characters easy to relate with. Although, a work of fiction, The Help is a historical but timeless masterpiece that will make readers take another look at the way they treat their helps. This book also takes readers back to the tumultuous time in history that shaped the world we live in today.

Book Review:Never Seduce a Sheikh by Jackie Ashenden

This is not my usual kind of book. I used to read historical romance, Mills and Boons and all kinds of Harlequin Romance in high school. As students, we would read the books secretly concealing the covers from the prying eyes of the teachers. It was exciting, something forbidden and as a teenager, a great way to rebel and learn about a world that  we weren’t supposed to know about.

Anyway, I digress.

I found Never Seduce a Sheikh by Jackie Ashenden and decided to read it simply because it had an interesting title and the book cover was… ahem… beautiful.


How deep into the darkness will she have to go to help bring him into the light?
Oil baronness Lily Harkness isn’t so much steel magnolia as titanium cactus. She’s used to living in a man’s world and when she plays, she plays to win. She wants exclusive oil rights to ensure her company remains at the top and she’s not walking away empty handed.
Sheikh Isma’il al Zahara rules his country his way. Always in command, he has his own plans for his country’s oil and it’s not just about the money. But he’s intrigued by the buttoned up business woman who’s come to his country to strike a deal. He can’t help but wonder what’s beneath her icy facade.
Lily’s desires are buried down deep, but her attraction to Isma’il is too strong to deny. Will seducing the sheikh cost Lily her body and her soul?

As I said, the title of the book is what drew me to it. I was also intrigued by the fact that the male protagonist was a Sheikh.

arabian men

I imagined that the Sheikh looked like this guy who was once allegedly  accused of being ‘too handsome’

I am curious about Arab royalty and  hence was interested in the setting of the story, hoping to get nuances of the Arabian Culture. Well, Jackie Ashenden portrays the culture brilliantly in this book.At some point, I found myself in the Arabian desert where beautiful women wear flowing dresses and gold ornaments and belly dance and the men are dark and handsome in their white robes.

beautiful images

I found this image online.I also imagine that the Arabian culture is exotic and simply beautiful.

From the book’s synopsis, it’s clear to see the struggles of Lily and Ismail. However, I’m not sure if it’s the case with all romance novels but the plot of this story  was too simplified, I felt that it lacked depth. For instance, the resolution of the conflicts that Lily and Ismail experienced was sort of rushed through. In addition, the third person narration made me feel like I was watching events unfold from the outside, not really connecting with the characters.
This was an easy, light read. As I said, it’s not really my type of book but still, it was fun to read so you should check it out(especially if you liked 50 Shades of Gray and enjoy romance novels). I look forward to reading more books from Jackie Ashenden but perhaps something a bit different from this one.